Exploring the unwritten rules of casual sex, dating, and everything in between
During the late 90s, Sex and the City became the go-to guide for women looking to open up, explore, and discuss their sexuality. Through the lives of four very different females, women across the world felt a sense of empowerment to embrace their sexuality. Author Artemisia aims to bring that level of frank discussion about sexuality, one-night stands, romance, and everything in between, out into the open for autistic women everywhere.
Autistic Spectrum Conditions (also known as ASC and ASD) have become more commonly spoken about, though infrequently in relation to women and girls.
Still an overwhelmingly male-focused field, Artemisia’s book focuses entirely on the female perspective, from the eyes of an ageing woman on the spectrum. Written with humour and blunt honesty, the author shares over 100 self-imposed rules to help her (and readers) stay safe while exploring sex and relationships.
While much of the book focuses on the author’s own journey through dating and one night stands, at its heart, Sex and the Single Aspie isn’t just pro-sex; it’s about having a healthy, loving relationship with yourself. The happier and more accepting you are of yourself, the less affirmation you need from those around you.
Artemisia offers clear advice and “safety notes” from the get-go, encouraging readers to be open and honest in their communication, but to always be safe. While it may seem straightforward advice to some, the author highlights how easy it is to get swept up and ignore, overlook, or outright not realise some of the dangerous situations people can find themselves in.
Perhaps most importantly, she highlights (and dissuades) a fear that dominates the minds of many non-neurotypical young women: that there are some secret, hidden rules to relationships that everyone is following.
With personal experiences retold and packaged like fiction, and a slightly rambling narrative in places, it’s easy to like and relate to Artemisia. Neurotypical readers can get a glimpse into the Aspie thought process as the author and titular character explains her feelings and leaps of logic in honest, frank terms.
We start in the aftermath of a bad relationship. Artemisia has left her partner to vacation in Greece, giving him time with his son, and time to sleep with other women. Feeling alone but not sad, she knows she cannot return to him. Yet she worries that, without a boyfriend, she cannot have a regular sex life and that, at her age, her chances of finding a boyfriend are decreasing.
Worried that she will never find anyone to love her because of her blunt way of speaking, the author touches on many of the fears shared by women on the spectrum that they may feel uncomfortable to express or not know how to discuss.
Through the course of her sexual exploits and journey across parts of Europe, we discover more about Artemisia: grandmother, traveller, writer, and Aspie; as well as her rules for having a safe, healthy relationship. A well-known blogger and writer in the ASD community, if like me, you hadn’t heard of her before, once you get started, you will be eager to read more of her work.
While Sex and the Single Aspie may very well be an essential read for young women on the spectrum, it is worth neurotypical readers remembering that these are the experiences of one person. Not all autistic women are as naïve as Artemisia occasionally generalises, nor do they necessarily share the tendency to obsess (though this can be a common trait).
Feeling like more than a memoir or love story, Sex and the Single Aspie is almost a middle-age coming-of-age story. Sharing not only tips, but deeply intimate experiences and parts of her life, Artemisia focuses on the importance of finding yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, and never being ashamed of your needs, wants and desires (sexual or otherwise).
Reading through her emotional journey is a roller coaster of ups and downs, yet it leaves us with a positive, hopeful message and advice we would all be better off for following. Love yourself. Protect yourself. Put yourself first.